Below we offer the general differences between each column material that we offer. There are more details about each porch column material in the specific product pages. But feel free to skip the reading and call us for a quick run through based on your project description. We can recommend budget sensitive applications, minimal maintenance applications, easiest installation option, etc. All of the materials that we offer last a really long time which is why we offer lifetime warranties. However, one material may have an application advantage over another. When it comes to column covers or columns that surround structural columns or wood beams, we recommend Fiberglass (for small diameters), Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer or “FRP” (for large diameters) and cellular PVC columns when square designs are warranted. As far as installation of round columns around structural supports, FRP is the most accommodating because each half comes with a lap joint that allows for easy “reassembly”. However, FRP is not budget sensitive with smaller diameters and widths which is why we recommend our Fiberglass columns for the smaller round sizes especially. Another advantage with FRP is that in addition to a standard white gel coat finish which is considered paint-grade, the product is available in any prefinished color, texture, or aggregate imaginable which allows for affordable columns that mimic stone or other natural products. Cellular PVC is similar to FRP in that it is designed specifically to wrap existing structural members. Our PVC columns come as two corners that get “reassembled” around an existing post or lally column. The product comes in white and is a paint-grade product. When it comes to whole columns that need to be loadbearing or simply decorative that aren’t wrapping anything, we recommend Fiberglass for paint-grade applications and Synthetic or Polymer Stone as a prefinished low maintenance option. Fiberglass is a reinforced poly/marble composite that results in a shaft that is comprised of a single unit. Polymer Stone is similar to fiberglass except that the product is completely infused with color pigment and finished smooth or lightly textured. The prefinished option can also be mixed with an assortment of aggregates to achieve coral or various finishes that achieve a less than uniform finish. Synthetic Stone mimics natural stone but at a fraction of the cost and weight. The above guidelines don’t necessarily apply to all situations but offer a general rule as to which porch column material may work best for your desired application. Please read more about each material on the specific product pages or call us for a quick run through. In addition to the general guidelines, please bear in mind that not all styles and sizes are available as standard options in each material. Customization is relatively inexpensive through our company but it is always cheaper to go with standard offerings. Please consult individual product pages for available styles and sizes for our various porch columns.